20 October 2023

Tangaroa Blue's last clean up mission of the year a huge success

| Chisa Hasegawa
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Group photo of Tangaroa Blue volunteers with the bags of rubbish collected.

Tangaroa Blue volunteers collected over a tonne of rubbish across six beaches. Photo: Supplied.

The final organised clean up event of 2023 came to an end last Friday (29 September), with volunteers collecting 1.73 tonnes of marine debris off the five beaches loop.

Tangaroa Blue project coordinator Ebony Bail described the event as “such a success”.

“We achieved what we set out to do and we’re really looking forward to coming back next year,” she said.

Debris found on the clean up was sorted and analysed, with any items less than half their original state being classified as remnants.

“We found a lot of foreign water bottles, commercial fishing gear remnants, hard plastic remnants and thongs too,” Ebony explained.

She said the “sheer number of items” was the standout of the clean up.

“Plastic water bottles and things like that aren’t very heavy, so you can imagine the volume of it all was quite large,” she said.

A surprising and somewhat ironic find were the many eco bricks that had washed up from overseas.

Eco bricks, which are building materials that reuse plastic bottles and fill them with soft plastic to make a solid brick, are marketed as a way to reduce the amount of plastic entering landfills and ocean systems.

However, many of the bricks themselves were found on the clean up.

“Obviously they aren’t very solid if we’re finding them washed up all the way over here,” Ebony said.

The clean up team also managed to make it to a sixth beach this year, where they collected the most amount of rubbish – 430 kg in about three hours.

“The amount of rubbish on beach six was just astronomical,” Ebony said.

Two women are sitting at a table sorting debris found on the day.

Sorting station: even the smallest pieces of plastic were collected and entered into the Australian Marine Databse Initiative. Photo: Supplied.

Ebony and the Tangaroa Blue team were grateful to the volunteers that worked for hours on the five day camp to free the beachfronts from debris.

“The volunteers were amazing,” she said.

“We worked from 7 am every day and we’d return to camp at around 5 pm, but everyone was in such high spirits and it was a really beautiful event.”

There were at least 15 volunteers every day and a few drivers passing by also stopped and helped out.

“Thank you to the rangers, the Traditional Owners of the country for allowing us to be there, the volunteers and anyone else who joined in,” Ebony said.

For any inquiries on how to get involved next time, contact [email protected] or visit the Tangaroa Blue website.

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